I know it’s only a month since our last report, but we want to take this opportunity to give you a brief update on the latest exciting happening for our ‘Up and Running’ project. For the whole month of September Belize Bird Rescue has had the honour of being GlobalGiving’s Project of the Month. As you may know, we have had several disasters with our 2 old vehicles: one needs a complete new engine and the other is only just limping along and is super-expensive to run, so the money from the project of the Month Club is hopefully going to get us back up and driving! Thank you so much to the project of the month donors for their amazing contribution and to GlobalGiving for choosing us out of all of the excellent causes and projects out there. And of course, huge thanks to all of YOU – our regular supporters who have helped to swell the donation from the Club and make our goal more achievable. Once we have the disbursement in Belize we will be shopping for the perfect vehicle that has the best bang for our buck. Watch this space!
Since our last report, we have had the joy of releasing as additional 5 olive-throated parakeets and 4 white-fronted amazons into the wild groups around the Centre, plus 15 yellowheaded amazons who were all older ex-pets and so habituated when they came to us that we never thought they could be released. Thank goodness they are proving us wrong.
Finally, in case you wondering, we managed to escape the devastation of the hurricanes so far this season. We know an awful lot of our fellow conservationists on many Caribbean Islands were not quite so lucky, and our heart goes out to them. Believe me, we know how they feel. There but for the grace of God go us.
So thank you once again and we will be in touch hopefully with photos of our wonderful new rescue vehicle!
Nikki and the BBR Team
Our sincere and humble thanks to you once again for your incredible generosity over the last few months. We are always stuck for adequate words as it’s almost impossible to convey you how grateful we are for your support.
So far for the first half of this year we have released 90 birds which included 51 parrots. Then the baby season brought us 42 additional confiscated and rescued parrots, which put us almost back where we were. Our total of birds currently in the rehab programme is 198, almost all of them parrots rescued from the illegal pet trade.
This has not been an easy couple of years: we are transitioning from being privately (and comfortably) funded, to striving to stay afloat. In case you weren’t aware, the sole income generation for BBR was through our co-founder/director Jerry, but he was severely impacted by the oilfield crash two years ago. Since that time we have been using our remaining savings to keep BBR up and running and to establish a Bed & Breakfast business on-site to provide sustainable long-term funding for the Rescue. We are getting there slowly and the B&B is gradually gaining a solid reputation. By all means share our information: www.rockfarmbelize.com
We are also launching a Membership Programme called ‘Fly Free Belize’ which would make a fabulous and affordable gift for friends and family – and yourself of course! Please check out the BBR website for details.
We believe we have realistic future strategies to become self-sustaining, provided we can continue to receive help from people like you in the meantime. So - if there is one more giant thing we could ask you to do for us, it would be to share our Global Giving projects, website and Facebook page with your social media contacts, friends and family. Our total annual outgoings for the rescue are still around $80,000US. We can see no realistic way of reducing this figure whilst maintaining our core activities which include assisting the Forest Department with their anti-poaching and enforcement strategies and continuing the hand-rearing of confiscated and at-risk chicks, especially the endangered yellowheaded parrot (Amazona oratrix belizensis).
Once again, thank you so much for your generosity and support.
Nikki and the BBR Team
Thanks to generous donors like you, we are continuing to help the birds of Belize.
Your donations over the last quarter have continued to keep us afloat. Although we haven’t been too active in fundraising – giving you a well-deserved break after the amazing GivingTuesday campaign last year - we did have that marvelous flurry of support for the 50% match ‘Little By Little’ in early April. We received an additional $1100 in total!! That’s a tremendous boost to our operations. Thank you so much.
So what have we been up to since we last spoke? Well, we are coming to the end of the ‘quiet season’. We have had the usual slow start to the year with only 42 patients, but breeding season is upon us (May to September) so are bracing ourselves for the incoming wave of trouble.
Barn owl season earlier this year saw 8 baby owls. This small number is hopefully an indication of the continued education having an impact on people’s negative superstitions about these birds. We had a rare Great Horned Owl baby which was successfully released on Ambergris Caye, and also a rare (for Belize) Wunderman’s heron (a hybrid/morph of the great blue heron) He is recovering well and on his way to release soon. Waterbird season was generally quiet too with only 8 fish-eaters getting into difficulties and coming our way. Oh - and THE cutest pale-billed woodpecker ever!
The parrot license programme continues, and owners seem to be developing a better understanding of parrot care, diet and behaviour of their birds licensed under this ‘’grandfather law’ initiative. Generally speaking, the Belizean public are beginning to realise that these birds are better off in the wild in Belize, flying free for everyone to enjoy. Having said that, yesterday we took in 5 baby yellowheads as part of our at-risk chick hand-rearing programme. They have been removed from the nest under the guidance of rangers and researchers to safeguard them from being trampled in over-crowded nests, and from nests outside of the protection range that are habitually poached. They will be raised and eventually re-released into the protected areas.
The best news at BBR – we released 40 white-front parrots and 14 red lords here at the Sanctuary. Two red lored pairs and three white-front pairs are now occupying our nest boxes. We are very excited at the prospect of being grandparents. Keep your eye on our Facebook page for updates of our novice parent’s efforts.
Thank you all once again for your support and please feel free to drop us a line and ask any questions about how we are spending your money. If you would like, please review our Facebook page, write a comment on our website, or recommend us to a friend who may also like to donate to the organisation.
Very best regards to you and have a wonderful weekend!
Nikki & the BBR Team
2016 finished on a super high note thanks to your amazing generosity coupled with the match-a-million from the Gates Foundation.
In the last quarter of 2016 we raised just a few dollars short of a fabulous $5,500US. A respectable figure that will cover food expenses and pay the wonderful Oscar’s wages for two complete months! That is a great relief to us, I can assure you.
I have finally sent out our (embarrassingly belated) thank you packages today, and want to say once again a heartfelt thanks to all of you who contributed and have been so patiently waiting for your gifts. We hope you like them! Also a huge thanks to those of you who declined your gifts in favour of additional funds for BBR, or who asked to have them re-gifted. If you haven't received the package you expected within a month, please let me know: its either gone astray or there has been an administration error (me!)
All in all it’s been an amazing experience to see so many people helping us to help the birds of Belize. We are fast approaching baby season and will be on the campaign trail once again to raise precious funds to get us through those early expenses of baby food and intensive care for any and all species that may come our way.
Bless you all for your help, and please, please, please continue to spread the word: our 2017 goal is to cover the $2000US monthly food bill and Oscar’s $890 per month wages with donated funds. With your help and support, we are sure we can do it!
Fundraising is a recent challenge for us. For over 12 years we had managed to fund our entire operation using our private income. But circumstances change, and we have had to change with them.
Our first hurdle was to find a way to reach donors and offer incentives to give. Enter Global Giving: a fabulous means to connect with donors by offering rewards such as tax-deductible donations and matching donations on double-up days.
Thanks to our engaging subjects of over 200 rehab parrots, we already had a fabulous facebook following, so we decided to use them to tell their own story – “Hello, my name is Sancho and I am a white-fronted parrot. Belize Bird Rescue rescued me from an unpleasant situation: I was sick and miserable and boy, just look at me now! Thanks to my rescuers I will soon be enjoying a free life in the wild” This approach was nothing new for our Facebook posts, but we decided to add a special little fundraising one-liner at the end: “if you would like to help other birds like Sancho, please support Belize Bird Rescue by donating here” (click to Global Giving…)
We got our usual 50,000 likes and 200+ shares and yes, even a few donations, (and we thank you all!), but in among the standard comments of “oh poor baby” and “thank you for all you do” we got The Troll. “Scam, Scam, these people are pulling at your heart strings and bleeding you dry for their own end” This guys went on and on, posting everywhere he could. We were mortified that someone would think of us in this way. We answered each and every one of his comments, tried to reason with him but he would not quit. In the end we posted several more stories to try and ‘bury’ this one. We didn’t mention fundraising at all, and eventually he went away, probably moving on to another unsuspecting organisation that is just trying to make a difference. We still have a very raw nerve when it comes to asking for money. Every time we mention it, in the back of our mind we wonder if people are thinking ‘scam’. It makes us question everything we say or do. It’s certainly a delicate skill, getting the right balance of sympathy to promote action without driving people away by making them feel guilty or annoyed at you for asking. We know exactly how that feels!
We learned from our mistake and are slowly developing better approaches. We have developed a few different tactics: we have written a children’s book and produced T-shirts, both of which are used as incentives to give donations. We have several of our projects listed with Global Giving, which hopefully brings a level of understanding of what we can achieve with limited resources. And more than that, we no longer play the sympathy card. Instead, we are matter of fact about things, informing potential donors how much it actually costs to put Sancho through the rehabilitation programme to release, how many staff we are responsible, our weekly fuel bill, vet bill, feed bill. We try to show people the reality of our day to day struggles in a practical and undramatic way.
This strategy is working slowly. We thank people like yourself for standing by us and believing in us. We tripped and fell and failed. We still have some bruises and, oh my goodness it was embarrassing. But at least we failed forward!
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